“Mirror, Mirror on the wall / Who Is the Freest of Them All?â€: portrayals of Princesses in Grimms’ Fairy Tales and Contemporary Children’s Literature

Maria da Conceição Tomé, Glória Bastos


According to scholars, Grimm’s Kinder- und Hausmärchen seems to have promoted patriarchal bourgeois values as part of the socialization process in the nineteenth century, modelling children’s gender identity and behaviour over time. Taking into account, under the hegemonic representations of gender, that female identity becomes associated with a set of values and behaviours, we intend to analyse comparatively portrayals of Grimm’s and contemporary Portuguese children’s literature princesses. Our aim is to find out in what ways those princesses’ images of the twenty-first century are substantially different from those conveyed by Grimm's fairy tales, analysing their emancipatory potential. Finally, we wish to apprehend which ideologies underpin those portrayals and to verify if they effectively lead to a new world vision by depicting women as real free human beings.

Palabras clave

Fairy tales; Children’s literature; Social roles; Gender identity; Princesses.

Texto completo:



Bacchilega, C. (1997). Postmodern fairy tales: gender and narrative strategies. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Bettelheim, B. (2003). A Psicanálise dos Contos de fadas. Lisboa: Bertrand Editora.

Bottigheimer, R. B. (1987). Grimms’ Bad Girls and Bold Boys- The moral and social vision of the tales. London: Yale University Press.

Colomer, T. (1998). La formación del lector literario. Narrativa infantil y juvenil actual. Madrid: Fundación Germán Sánchez Ruipérez.

Haase, D. (2004). Feminism fairy tale scholarship. En Haase, D. (ed.). Fairy Tales and Feminism: New Approaches (pp. 1-37). Michigan: Wayne State University Press.

Lieberman, M. R. (1972). Some Day My Prince Will Come: Female Acculturation through the Fairy Tale. College English, Vol. 34 (Nº. 3) (Dec., 1972), 383-395.

Masimi, B. (2003). A Princesa baixinha. Lisboa: Livros Horizonte.

Monteiro, S. (2007). A Princesa que queria ser rei, Porto: Âmbar.

Münder, A. (2002). Women’s roles in fairy tales: a comparison of the portrayal of women in “Marienkind†of the Brothers Grimm and Benedikte Naubert’s “Ottilieâ€. Master Thesis. West Virginia: West Virginia University.

Rowe, K. E. (1986). Feminism and fairy tales. En Zipes, J. (ed.) Don’t Bet on the Prince. Contemporary feminist fairy tales in North America and England (pp. 209-226). New York: Routledge.

Salgado, D. I. T. F. (2008). Fairy tales, or unfair tales?!... Breaking the Glass Slipper, and the Need for Modern Retellings. Masters Thesis. Aveiro: Universidade de Aveiro.

Silvestre, N. A. C. (2011). A subjetificação feminina no conto The Snow Child, de Angela Carter. Revista Litteris (N.º 7). Retrieved 12 February, 2012, from http://revistaliter.dominiotemporario.com/doc/A_SUBJETIFICACAO_FEMININA_NO_CONTO_THE_SNOW_CHILD_-_Nelci_Alves_Coelho_Silvestre.pdf

Soares, L. D. (2007). A Princesa da chuva. Lisboa: Civilização Editora.

Tatar, M. (1987). The Hard Facts of Grimms’ Fairy Tales. 2nd edition. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Tomé, M. da C.; Bastos, G. (2011). A Herança dos irmãos Grimm na literatura juvenil contemporânea: a “chick lit†e as princesas do novo milénio. AGÃLIA, 103, 7-29.

Zipes, J. (1988). Fairy tales and the art of subversion: the classical genre for children and the process of civilization. New York: Routledge.

Zipes, J. (ed.) (1986). Don’t Bet on the Prince. Contemporary feminist fairy tales in North America and England. New York: Routledge.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15645/Alabe.2013.8.5